B.S. Ramesh

BANGALORE: Although the new academic year is slated to commence in a few weeks, the row over the issue of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in primary schools between the State Government and private schools still remains unresolved.

The tussle between managements of private unaided minority institutions and the Government over the language issue has been going on for several years. While the Government is sticking to its stand that students must be taught in Kannada medium, the managements are reluctant to do so and want the State to permit them to teach in English medium.

Schools have been obtaining orders from the High Court directing the Government to comply with a July 2008 Full Bench judgment on the issue. A Full Bench comprising of the then Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justices Manjula Chellur and N. Kumar had held that the State could not compel students to learn Kannada and that the choice must be left to the children and their parents.

The State had filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court against the Full Bench order. The Supreme Court not only refused to stay the High Court judgment, but also orally indicated that there was nothing wrong in a student learning in the language of his choice.

When this matter came up last week in the Supreme Court, the case was adjourned to July. What this means is that the Supreme Court will hear the case after the academic year for schools begins. This is so unless either of the parties, either the State or the schools, move for early hearing.

Sources in the Government said the Education Department this year too would issue endorsements to schools refusing permission for them to commence English-medium schools.

They said the jurisdictional Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) would issue endorsements to the schools refusing permission, saying that since the matter was pending adjudication, no decision could be taken at this stage.

The sources said if they gave permission now to schools to teach in English medium and if the Supreme Court upheld the stand of the State Government, it would be difficult for them to take action. Therefore, the endorsement refusing permission.

Private schools, however, remain undeterred and many of them told The Hindu that they would continue to approach the High Court seeking a direction to the DDPI to allow their application for starting English-medium schools. In case the DDPI refused permission, they said they would move the High Court for contempt.

For the parents and children, the unending wait for clearing the confusion over the language issue is likely to continue this year too.